At the age of 12 I found a strange cartoon book in a shop in Wakefield. The first few illustrations bemused me but one, a middle-aged man offering a pair of driving gloves to his pet goldfish with the title: 'happy birthday Gordon', appealed to David's sense of humour. From hereon I was hooked. Kliban's work became a lifelong passion, and my search for his rarest book, The Biggest Tongue in Tunisia, continues.
In the 1970s Kliban built a multi-million dollar empire through his book, Cat, and its merchandise and spin-offs. However, his other books showed how, as Blake once said, 'there is a universe inside my head.' And what a strange and fascinating world Kliban's was.
For a while Kliban was one of the most influential cartoonists in history, inspiring the Pythons, the Saturday Night Live team, Ivor Cutler and Gary Larson. He moved cartooning away from the tired formula of speech bubbles and desert islands into his own surreal world and single-handedly created the ironic caption that remains the staple of the greeting card world today. His work is timeless, thought-provoking, philosophical and at times downright bizarre, yet he seems to have been overlooked by history.
It's time Kliban was celebrated and his work reappraised. This lecture seeks to do just that.